Raining cats and dogs = Raining unusually hard
I was always wondering how the saying originated and discovered a few schools of thought on the subject. One theory from the 1500s suggests that domesticated animals slipped off and fell through thatched roofs during stormy weather. This, I find hard to imagine, to tell you the truth. I’m not sure what dogs, in particular, would be doing up there, bad wether or not. Another theory is that violent rainfalls caused storm drains to back up, spilling out the carcasses of various animals. Graphic and horrific as it sounds, floodwater washing dogs and cats down the street is not exactly the same as them falling from the sky. One plausible answer refers to the Norse mythology, where cats were believed to bring the rain, and dogs were associated with wind. Phew – much better!
Further, I found out that elsewhere in England it is sometimes “raining pitchforks and hoe handles,” or in another variation on the same farm theme, “raining pitchforks and bullfrogs.” Those were scary times…
In South Africa and Namibia, apparently, it rains “old women with clubs”. Ouch! During heavy rainfall in Ireland, one might remark, “It’s throwing cobbler’s knives.” In Denmark, “It’s raining shoemakers’ apprentices.” (What?)
In the Faroe Islands, they say it’s raining pilot whales. Brilliant. In Greece, there are chair legs falling from the clouds. (Sure, why not?) In Brazil, it’s frogs’ beards. (OK, are we talking about fictitious frogs’ beards or someone’s loose hair extensions?)
I seem to be drawn towards the Norwegian description of a heavy rainfall: “Det regner trollkjerringer.” It’s raining troll women. Now, THESE are my kinda women.
More so, in Serbia “The rain falls and kills the mice.” I guess we got lost in translation here, but, the point is, this idiom is still being used in English speaking countries and as delightfully disturbing as it is, somehow it conveys its meaning and is easy to remember! Enjoy.